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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Africa soil health

Poor soil fertility is a key constraint to improving farm productivity and farmer livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) is recognised as an effective solution to poor crop yields. However, lack of access to information means that smallholder farmers do not adopt better techniques. To combat this, we are working with partners to add value to communication campaigns that are designed to facilitate adoption and capture learning.

Project Overview

So, what's the problem

Poor soil fertility is a key constraint to improving farm productivity and farmer livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) is a set of management practices which includes the use of fertiliser, organic inputs and improved germ-plasm and is adapted to local conditions and uses sound agronomic principles, and is recognised as an effective solution. New knowledge on ISFM has the potential to change the lives of millions of smallholder farming families in sub-Saharan Africa.

The extent to which small-scale farming families are willing and able to implement these practices though is limited, even if they will improve productivity and increase their profits.

Often, researchers lack the skills to communicate their findings, and the R&D landscape is fragmented leading to lack of validated, actionable and aggregated information. Farmers often lack access to this information, have inadequate incentives to adopt these new techniques and lack both the capacity to implement and the necessary inputs. 

What is this project doing?

This second phase of Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) focuses on generating appropriate, farmer-friendly, communication approaches to give farming families access to the information they need. We want to add value to the campaigns and capture learning.

ASHC will support development and test materials which will integrate information from different partners, and ensure content is user friendly and well-targeted (taking account of gender differences and local contexts). 

To do this, we will work with partners that use different scale-up approaches. A key area of interest for us though, will be how agro-dealers can support information sharing and how youth can be a conduit for information to farming families. 

With partners, our project team will collect qualitative and quantitative data to learn lessons on communications and assess adoption rates achieved. The project will continue to develop and expand the web-based resource library of ISFM materials and improve accessibility and usability of resources.

We want to use principles akin to supply chain management, as they provide solutions to overlooked problems, concepts and methods and balance the demand and supply of information for identified audiences. They also act as a framework to produce new solutions that deliver the right information to the right recipients in the right way and at the right time.

The team use the analysis gained to conceptualise how information is generated, collated, integrated, adapted, shared and ultimately used. This approach identifies the range of intermediaries that may share information directly with smallholder farming families. The ASHC team and partners will then gather feedback on the effectiveness of the links along the information supply chain and seek to balance supply and demand of information along it and move towards the production of high quality, action-orientated and farmer-friendly information.

To make actionable content more accessible, we have developed a series of tools and processes that can be used to address bottlenecks and constraints in the information supply chain to benefit smallholder farming families.

The team

Project Manager

Staff image of James Watiti

James Watiti  Coordinator - Development, Communication and Extension

CABI
Canary Bird
673 Limuru Road
Muthaiga
PO Box 633-00621
Nairobi
Kenya
T +254 (020) 7224450/62
E j.watiti@cabi.org

Project team

Staff image of Christine Alokit

Christine Alokit

Communication and Extension Scientist

Staff image of Stephanie Gakuo

Stephanie Gakuo

Development Communications Specialist

Staff image of Solomon Agyemang Duah

Solomon Agyemang Duah

Communications Specialist, Ghana

Staff image of Rahab  Njunge

Rahab Njunge

Theme Officer - Development, Communications and Extension

Staff image of Duncan Sones

Duncan Sones

ASHC Advisor

Staff image of Keith Sones

Keith Sones

ASHC Advisor

Country

  • Ghana
  • Ethiopia
  • Nigeria
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda

Duration

  • Start: 04/05/2015
  • End: 31/12/2019

Partners

  • Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
  • Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
  • International Fertilizer Development (IFDC)
  • International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI)
  • Africa 2000 Network (A2N)
  • Africa Rice
  • Africare
  • Agricultural Research Institute - ARI Maruku
  • Christian Rural Aid Network (CRAN)
  • Clinton Hunter Development Initiative
  • Consortium for Improving Agricultural Livelihoods in Central Africa - CIALCA
  • Dutch Agricultural Development & Trading Company BV (DADTCO)
  • Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research - EIAR
  • Farm Input for Promotions Africa - FIPS
  • Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique - IIAM
  • International Center for Tropical Agriculture - CIAT
  • International Crop Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics - ICRISAT
  • International Institute of Tropical Agriculture - IITA
  • International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center - CIMMYT
  • Kenya Agricultural Research Institute - KARI
  • MEA
  • Mediae
  • Michael Okpara University of Agriculture - MOUAU
  • Michigan State University
  • Millennium Villages
  • N2Africa
  • National Agricultural Research Organization - NARO
  • National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi - NASFAM
  • Notore Chemicals
  • Savanna Agricultural Research Institute SARI - Ghana
  • Selian Agricultural Research Institute SARI-Tanzania
  • Shujaaz
  • Soil Research Institute - SRI
  • Sokoine University of Agriculture - SUA
  • University of Science and Technology Kumasi
  • Wageningen University
  • Young African Express
  • Zambia Agricultural Research Institute - ZARI